Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 4 - Quemado to El Malpais

Today was an easy day for Matt, mostly downhill, and he was happy about it. He found the areas he rode through surprisingly lush.

Mmm, what's for dinner tonight?

The motel stay last night was fine, but he felt like it was a little early in the tour to stay in a motel room. He would rather be outdoors!

He had the choice tonight to camp right near the visitor center at El Malpais, right in between the parking lot and a building (the rangers took pity on him), or at a campground 2 miles back up the hill he just came down. He needed to come to the visitor center to get water anyway. He insists that the key item he needs at camp is a picnic table, so that he has someplace to sit down. There is a picnic table at the visitor center, but it's not right next to the area where he could camp. It sounded like he was probably going to be heading back up that hill.

Matt had not made a final decision on tomorrow's route yet. He'll be calling from a town he'll pass through to let me know where he'll go. The choices include his original planned route north through some very tiny towns, or a trip down I-40! Riding a bike on the interstate is legal and he's done it before in Arizona, making very good time in fact. We'll have to wait and see which way he decides to go.

Day 4 – 75 miles, 5:17, 14 AVG

Another county, another sign

Had a restful night in Quemado motel. Loaded up on water and headed north. Ride today was awesome. Great scenery through PJ and open plains and lots of rangelands. Very green.

No towns out here!

No towns today, but lots of downhill! And even some tailwinds. Flew into the Malpais and tried to sightsee a bit, but most sites were too far off the road (except La Ventana). Saw the prairie dogs though! The volcanic activity is pretty old here, and I didn’t get to see much anyway since the road skirts around the lava flows.

La Ventana Arch, Malpais

Had to pass the campground for the visitor center to get more water. The rangers there must have had a good laugh at my expense. I was so indecisive about where to camp (the Great Divide mountain bike trail passes nearby, and some riders have chosen to camp at the visitor center), but I eventually back tracked the two miles to this lonely BLM campsite. Alone again! But I’ve found some shade and a pair of Juniper Titmice to keep me company. And I’ve got pot sherds in the site! I’m sandwiched here between the Acoma and Zuni pueblos. The terrain is now starting to look like the typical northern New Mexico mesa and sandstone bluff.

Juniper Titmouse - Says Phoebe - Rock Wren - Loggerhead Shrike - Northern Mockingbird

Lava and cactus, Malpais

Let the sandstone begin! Malpais

Today's route map:

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